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An ingenious witty behind the scenes novel about eight hours in the life of an authorA literary celebrity is in Tel Aviv on a stifling hot night to give a reading from his new bookWhile the obligatory inane uestions Why do you write? What is it like to be famous? Do you write with a pen or on a computer? are being asked and answered his attention wanders and he begins to invent lives for the strangers he sees around him Among them are Yakir Bar Orian Zhitomirski a self styled literary guru; Tsefania Beit Halachmi a poet whose work provides the novel’s title; and Rochele Reznik a professional reader with whom the Author has a brief but steamy sexual skirmish; to say nothing of Ricky the waitress the real object of his desire One life story builds on another—and the author finds himself unexpectedly involved with his creations

10 thoughts on “חרוזי החיים והמוות

  1. says:

    Amos Oz is a respected and prolific authorIn this novella Oz takes away all the noisy elements of religion and politics thank heavens and concentrates on existential uestions of his ownWhat is the role of a published writer? How important is all the stuff he imparts to his contemporary audience and what is the shelf life of his works? How much of his personal story shall he share with others and should the account be fictional or not? And is he writing for himself or for profit?The protagonist is only known to us as the Author who is a celebrated writer He finds the benefits of fame are silly and he finds himself bored with his writing and bored with his readers and he now suffers the accoladesBut thank heavens in his mid forties he is functionally productive on all pistonssexually And he depicts in detail his and her tantric pleasures and techniues to anyone who needs to learn it for the Puritans that exist on planet Uron possiblyAnd from the vantage point of his lovers we are introduced to several we come to understand their uniue views of the world and his views of these women's views by his interpretationSo? OkayOccam's razor or Gillette's; who cares?

  2. says:

    An aging Israeli author is making the rounds of local book groups The brief book 150 pages is translated from the Hebrew We are treated to his mental peregrinations as the author sits there listening to his introduction a reading of his work and a critic’s response before he makes his remarks Mostly he does what authors do he imagines lives for the people in the audience He also tries to pick up the waitress in the coffee shop no success and after the event the woman who reads his work Success Or not? He gives us both scenarios This is fiction after all and the author is asking us “why should you believe everything I write?” A sample of the writing from the waitress’s musings “men can’t help themselves that’s just the way they are made but women in her view are actually not much better and that’s why love is something that one way or another always turns out badly” A good uick read

  3. says:

    This short story seems to be a gimmick a little experiment of Amos Oz but maybe it's not and it is deadly serious This uncertainty is expressed in constantly shifting perspectives short pieces of action and then reveries There’s a clear focus on the grimy and desolate side of existence Eventually the writer and the writing are central to the plot all characters turn out to be the writer himself who creatively struggles with his impotence in life Not an easy book but I do think that Oz had a lot of fun writing it

  4. says:

    124th book of 2020Author has a reading coming up and isn't sure how he's going to answer the uestions The novel opens with Author sitting in a bar; he begins to imagines the lives of the people around him as I'm sure many of us have done ourselves Look at his clothes let's imagine his job; maybe his wife hates him; maybe his daughter hates him; maybe he's having an affair or maybe he's loyal and loving and happy The premise of this short experimental novel is exactly that Imagining What Oz challenges though is where does reality stop and where does Author's imaginations begin? At the reading his life creating continues the woman reading his work gets a backstory the sickly man in the audience the laughing man at the back The novel is self aware a little satirical Author goes home with the girl from the reading or does he? Not only does he spin an imaginary life or event he creates multiple In one she opens the door In another she is not home In another she refuses him The lives of his invented characters begin to crossover and soon it gets muddled with him the spinster the spider in the middle of the web It is sly Kundera esue It is witty full of sex The theory of the novel is interesting but in practice it becomes convoluted spiralling into madness Perhaps Oz planned it that way

  5. says:

    I received a copy of Amos Oz's Rhyming Life and Death from a dear friend for my birthday I had not read any of prizewinning author Oz's work before and was suitably intrigued by the blurb of this novel which was first published in 2007 and has been translated from its original Hebrew by Nicholas Lange The Guardian calls Rhyming Life and Death 'A master class in interlocking character sketches and a fable on the themes of sex death and writing pitched somewhere between the fictional universes of JM Coetzee and Milan Kundera' The Scotsman declares it 'a meditation on the art of writing the relationship between literature and life between life and death'In the novel which is set during the 1980s an unnamed author spends a window of time before he is due to give a reading waiting in a bar in Tel Aviv 'on a stifling hot night' making up 'the life stories of the people he meets' The story culminates in his asking a woman who declares herself a huge fan of his work for a drink Although she declines he 'walks away only to climb the steps to her flat that night Or does he? In Amos Oz's beguiling intriguing story the reader never really knows where reality ends and invention begins' Rhyming Life and Death opens with a wealth of freuently asked uestions which have been posed to 'the Author' as he is referred to throughout They include 'Why do you write the way you do?' 'Do you constantly cross out and correct or do you write straight out of your head?' and 'Why do you mostly describe the negative side of things?' There are many such uestions and a lot of them cross the line between public and personalOz's writing errs on the sensual He seems particularly concerned with evoking the smells of Tel Aviv Of a man lying in the terminal ward of a hospital he writes 'With every breath his lungs are invaded by a foul cocktail of smells urine sedatives leftover food sweat sprays chlorine medicines soiled dressings excrement beetroot salad and disinfectant' Sounds too are important to Oz's descriptions of Israel and they are paired in the novel with musings about the Author and the strange power which his fans believe him to possess 'The night is pierced by the staccato alarm of a parked car struck by sudden panic in the darkness Will the Author say something new this evening? Will he manage to explain to us how we got into this state of affairs or what we have to do to change it? Can he see something we haven't seen yet?'In this novel Oz certainly gives insight into elements of what it is like to be a writer and to be known The public throughout have uite unrealistic expectations of him as indeed he has of others The stories which he invents of people whom he meets are often overly detailed I found some of these inventions interesting than others but the constant repetition of details did become tiresome rather uickly There are scenes here which are rather cringeworthy and crammed with a series of cliched metaphors Whilst the novel was interesting enough to read and I could never uite guess in which direction it was going it has not made me want to pick up any of Oz's other work in a hurry I found Rhyming Life and Death rather rambling and peculiar in places and the story meanders rather than takes a natural path There is however a definite feeling of purpose to Oz's chosen structure The novel is gritty at times and muses upon the meaning of life I can certainly see why his writing has been compared to Kundera's but I must admit that on my experience of reading this book alone I far prefer Kundera's work to Oz's

  6. says:

    The book is a fascinating look at writing life and death fantasy and reality and the comparison of how opposites need each other in order to complete the whole The protagonist is known as The Author and we never learn his true name The use of third person narration is subjective in Rhyming Life DeathThis form of narration affords us to be inside the mind of The Author and we know his thoughts and feelings This format is perfect for the novel in that it exposes the immediate train of thought of The Author He is a man who is bored with the task at hand before it even begins that of having to attend a literary event where there will be a reading of his work and he will speak and answer uestions regarding his writingI won’t go into the descriptions of the characters The Author develops as the book is a slim volume and I would give the entire story away Suffice it to say that there are some interesting individuals in the story and there are both humorous and poignant moments Oz is incredible with his vivid and detailed imagery leaving nothing to the reader’s imaginationThe Author’s stories are just that stories and most do not have a plot but are a form of amusement for him There is a often a fine line between reality and fantasy and in Rhyming Life Death it is often difficult to separate the facts from the imaginary They often seem as one and at times it appears that the characters seemingly have taken on a life of their own within The Author’s mind OZ has done it again In my opinion Rhyming Life Death is a powerful book although some might not think so as it can seem disjointed and one that is an illumination on writing and on reading and on life and death It is almost as if Oz is assailing or ridiculing writing itself or at least the process of writing and being published and the effects of the endeavor both during and after That is the beauty of Amos Oz his ability to infuse the absurd within the pages to leave beginnings with no endings and yet brilliantly show that clarity of mind can coexist with one’s imagination “Once in a while it is worth turning on the light to clarify what is going on“

  7. says:

    My gut feeling is that this will be a bit of a love it or loathe it kind of a book Personally I loved it I could have written it I wish I had Now I can't Damn But the lack of a real plot will drive some people mad Some of the Author's musings actually pan out into short stories but most are just character sketches that simply merge into one another And then it just stops Well it doesn't really but it reaches a point where the author is stopped in his tracks; someone is dead – what is there to imagine?I can't envisage a writer not enjoying this book I can't speak for non writers but they're not that different from us I've found desperately curious about other people Why would shows like Big Brother attract such large audiences if we didn't all have the 'peeping Tom' gene? We writers can't content ourselves with spying; we need take notes and write them up laterYou can read a full review on my blog here

  8. says:

    It's a perfectly well written bookbut one that didn't speak to me at all and felt like a chore to read So much so that I gave up after a disinterested 60 pages I simply couldn't muster any enthusiasm for what was going on Just one of those books that will legitimately give other people enjoyment but to me was nothing than wallpaper

  9. says:

    To read this book is to transport yourself temporarily to another place It is warm and humid and the air conditioning is unreliable Filled with playfulness 'the Author' is to give a talk at a cultural centre where many have gathered to hear him Before during and after the engagement the Author tells us his thoughts and observations of the people he encounters and imagines and how the evening transpiresArriving early he detours to a nearby cafe and it becomes clear that this Author is preoccupied with the lives of the others he observes Amos Oz teases us with the possibilities of those lives where they live who they live with who they loved what they lost and even what may slowly be killing them Later in the night once the event is over the Author escorts the professional reader for a walk before saying goodnight to her What happens beyond that is uncertain Oz playfully suggests one possibility while ruling out another Just as things fall neatly into place he goes back and shows a parallel realityI've read a few Oz books now and would say that this one has some passages I'd describe as 'classic Oz' In places he is definitely in top gear as he supplies depth and intrigue to each and every character's life At other times though it can feel that he has switched on the cruise control and taken his foot off the gasA short book Oz manages to pack so much in to the story that it feels like much than has actually been read The cast is long and it is wonderful how much substance he manages to convey in so short a time There are stories within stories here and the possibilities are endless All in all a very enjoyable read and one that will probably reveal to the reader each time it is rediscovered An intriguing glimpse inside the mind of an author and how they may see the world around them in all its triviality and beauty

  10. says:

    My reading of novelists freuently mentioned as potential Nobel Prize winners continues with the Israeli writer Amos Oz I first became familiar with Oz when I read a dazzling section of his A Tale of Love and Darkness which I must return to one day His most recent novel Rhyming Life and Death is a small wonderful homage to the blessing or is it a curse? of imagination which becomes the bedrock of the author the novel's central character The entire book takes place in the imagination of an author as he makes up stories and scenarios about an array of persons that simply pass before his eyes or sometimes just through his mind These characters develop such a vivid life in the author's imagination that they even begin to imagine him the whole world dissolving into little than a network of narrative possibilities But this book is than just an enaging excursion into a writer's fertile imagination it is also an amazingly warm and deeply humanistic work One of his characters a certain Pessach Yikhat suggests that At the very least literature should not preen itself on mocking us and picking at our wounds as modern writers in our age do ad nauseam p 103 This is a book that does not pick at our wounds The wounds are there to be sure and the author sees them but he has far too high an opinion of even the imagined life to become cruel or nasty as in fact so many modern writers do